--Spoiler warning! This post is going to be full of lots of details of the book, up to the point I've read anyway. So if you haven't read the book yet and/or don't want to read any spoilers, you may as well skip this post and go do something else with yourself for awhile. I'll catch you next post. --
Apparently my favorite character has been Arabella Strange. She snuck up on me. We are first introduced to her through Jonathan Strange's description, though his initial description proves to be false rather quickly. He thinks "sometimes it seemed as if she had fallen in love with him for the sole purpose of quarreling with him" (244) and then he lists all of the things he anticipates she will argue about. He even imagines entire arguments she's going to draw him into. This gives an impression that she's a nag but even in his arguments a very loving nag. But still, a nag. Luckily the narrator jumps in and explains that his love for Arabella has "produced a most inexact portrait of her," (254) and when she does appear on the scene she is actually wonderful. She's kind and she genuinely loves Strange, which in and of itself is a nice thing to see for characters in this time.
I liked all the scenes with Arabella but I guess I never really thought about her too much. But then she was taken away by the jerk-face (I become a 4 year old when upset) with the thistle-down hair to be another toy in his Lost-Hope balls. But unlike Lady Pole and Stephen, who gets to leave Faerie land every day, Arabella "dies" in the human world and is a permanently a prisoner. So at first I was just mad at the this thistle-down hair man because obviously he is the one who actually took Arabella. But getting mad at him for acting selfishly is silly. I may as well get mad at a zombie for eating brains; it's just in it's nature and it's your fault if you get in the way. So who is culpable? Who's fault is it? Then Lady Pole came through and shed the light when she tried to shoot Norrell.
Up until this point I liked Norrell. Not in a seems-like-a-fun-guy-we-should-hang-out kind of way, but in the fact that he's an interesting character while boring and annoying the other characters is pretty great. But he brought the thistle-down hair man to their world to wreak havoc and when he heard that Lady Pole was driven mad by Arabella's "death" he knows what's actually happened but he doesn't come forward. He's a coward. I'm fine with annoying, overly-cautious, boring characters but this guy is the worst kind of coward and I want him taken down.
Strange & Norrell is only getting more interesting and now I can't wait to see what happens next. I hope it involves having Arabelle and Norrell changing places or at least just bring Arabella back.
Title quote from pages 667-668
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London. 2004.